Betting-Previews.com takes a look at the World Cup 2022 Qualifications Group J bout between two current frontrunners in North Macedonia and Armenia, who will cross swords on Thursday, September 2, at National Arena Toshe Proeski in Skopje.
North Macedonia vs Armenia
When: Thursday, September 2 – 20:45 CEST
Where: National Arena Toshe Proeski in Skopje, North Macedonia
Weather: Clear, 19°C
Referee: Artur Soares Dias (POR)
North Macedonia impressed many with what they produced in the previous World Cup 2022 qualifier rounds, namely their win against Germany (2-1). Although they are 0-3 in their last three bouts, the Lynxes sit comfortably in second place in Group J, tied with Germany at six points.
Armenia are the current frontrunners of Group J with a perfect 3-0 record and nine points. However, a couple of their wins were questionable, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll be as successful on Thursday, when they take a trip to National Arena Toshe Proeski, to face off against one of the strong candidates to secure a ticket for Qatar.
High-Flying North Macedonia
In the last round of the World Cup 2022 qualifiers, North Macedonia stunned Joachim Löw’s team with 2-1. Although a shocking win on paper, North Macedonia deserve all the praise they can get for what they’ve shown on the day.
Most notably, the Lynxes managed to restrict Germany to only two shots on target, while Germany’s only goal came via a penalty. If we look further back, North Macedonia had beaten Lichtenstein with a comfortable 5-0, although they were not as successful in their opener against Romania (2-3).
Regardless, Blagoja Milevski can be extremely proud of what his men have been showing on the pitch, and if they can keep their wheels spinning, a ticket for the 2022 World Cup shouldn’t escape them.
It’s also fair to mention North Macedonia’s run through the EURO 2020. Although they haven’t won a single match, the Lynx have shown that they can compete with the best and have had some impressive moments even though they headed back home with a 0-3 record and 2-8 goal difference – Austria (1-3), Ukraine (1-2), Netherlands (0-3).
Milevski will be without the 38-year-old Goran Pandev, who has quit international football. Although Pandev will be dearly missed, Milevski has options in Eljif Elmas, Ezgian Alioski, and Enis Barhdi.
Armenia Atop Of Group J
Armenia have yet to lose a match at the World Cup 2022 qualifiers. They have defied the odds against Romania (3-2) and Iceland (2-0), which looks great, but we can’t be too excited about Armenia’s showing against Lichtenstein (1-0).
Armenia won that match, but they were the beneficiaries of an 83’ own-goal, so it’s fair to say that Joaquín Caparrós shouldn’t have won that game under normal circumstances. Talking about favourable situations for Armenia, they won against Romania thanks to two late goals in 87’ and 88’, while Romania were playing with only 10 men, which again presents us with a game which Armenia arguably shouldn’t have won.
Luck is a cruel mistress, and it’s only a matter of time before Armenia find themselves on the other side. On a more positive note, Henrik Mkhitaryan should feature alongside Tigran Barseghyan and Sargis Adamyan.
Besides those three, the Armenian squad isn’t exactly what you could call “quality”. The team comprises mostly local players, who have had some flashes of greatness before, but this is not a team that is considered elite or even close to that.
North Macedonia vs Armenia Betting Pick
North Macedonia last met with Armenia in November 2020, when Armenia won 1-0 at home. Across their last five meetings, it was the hosts who ended up winning, which includes two wins for North Macedonia (2-1 in 2020, 2-0 in 2018) and three for Armenia (1-0 in 2020, 4-0 in 2018, and 4-1 in 2011).
Playing at home obviously plays a role in these meetings, and this time out, it will be North Macedonia who will enjoy the advantage. Take the hosts to deliver and leapfrog Armenia in Group J!
Prediction: North Macedonia to win – 1.80 at Sportmarket